My best human interaction this week occurred not with a friend, nor a family member, nor even a co-worker. It occurred with a stranger, an arborist who had come to take down part of my dead Siberian elm.
He arrived as arborists will, with a massive truck towing a wood chipper. Before he had even parked, he had done damage, clipping two healthy evergreens near the road in front of my house, dropping a low-hanging branch from each. Not a good start, and I was already anxious about the job.
The elm, which had provided a shady canopy over part of my sun-washed deck, died when an arctic front moved through in November 2014, freezing the sap still flowing in its veins. The loss shocked me. For decades, the towering old tree had been hardy and uncomplaining, surviving through years-long droughts while other trees and shrubs withered. Losing it hurt.
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